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Fault Lines: Journeys into the New South Africa (Perspectives on Southern Africa) Hardcover – March 16, 1999


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Amazon.com Review

In April 1994, South Africa held its first ever democratic elections, ushering Nelson Mandela into office as the nation's first black president. What has followed that election, as the country attempts to reinvent a society founded on racism and the indignities of apartheid, is the subject of Fault Lines. "How does a nation deal with the memory of its brutal past?" is perhaps the question that most guides David Goodman, a journalist and longtime observer of South African life. Like the Truth and Reconciliation hearings, the political instrument of South Africa's struggle to come to terms with apartheid-era crimes, the strength of Fault Lines rests on an unflinching yet compassionate quest for truth. Goodman brings all his investigative skills to the task of getting an answer from all sides. He juxtaposes profiles of a victim of police brutality and the former security officer who helped torture him, or a well-off Afrikaner farmer and his neighbor, a black South African forcibly removed from his land. While formal apartheid has ended, Goodman finds "an unfinished revolution," with many citizens still mired in terrible economic and social injustice. Fault Lines is fascinating, if disturbing, reading for anyone interested in understanding the history and present of what the author calls "the most exciting country in the world." --Maria Dolan

From Publishers Weekly

In this richly textured book, GoodmanAwho first went to South Africa as an activist in 1984 and returned for a year in 1996Aprofiles four pairs of people who dramatize the country's current conflicts and contradictions. The most gripping section concerns South Africa's deep rifts over land redistribution and amnesty: Frank Chikane, a former activist now in the government, must justify his government's rightward economic drift; his one-time torturer, a white ex-cop who became a killer during South Africa's Namibian war, is now a wreck. The story of Wilhelm Verwoerd, son of apartheid's architect, and his estranged son, a supporter of the African National Congress, dramatizes the schisms among Afrikaners. South Africa's enduring povertyAand potential opportunityAis shown in the juxtaposition of a black councilwoman near Cape Town and a brazen businesswoman who exploits white guilt and doesn't flinch at blaming fellow blacks. And on the platteland, where Afrikaner farmers still beat black workers, the return of land to displaced blacks proceeds slowly. Goodman contextualizes these tales with a savvy understanding of both South Africa's history and its slow, troubled transformation. While his book doesn't encompass all of the country's fault lines of region, ethnicity and class, Goodman eloquently conveys why he has been obsessed by South Africa and its trials. Ultimately, he finds South Africans' passion for their country inspirational, and so will most readers. Photos by Paul Weinberg. First serial to the New Yorker.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: Perspectives on Southern Africa (Book 56)
  • Hardcover: 410 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (March 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520217365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520217362
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,366,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By carlos_lugo-ortiz@entm.purdue.edu on May 22, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I first heard about this book on a radio talk show and immediately ordered it through Amazon.com. Listening to the author talk about his views on South Africa was quite interesting because he loves the country and its people and is cautiously enthusiastic about its future, but reading his book reveals that the vast problems South Africa faces are incredibly complex and that it may well take several generations to create an egalitarian society. One really wonders if South Africa will stand the test of time and not become another Rwanda or Yugoslavia.
The author intelligently divided the book into four parts: an introduction in which he talks about his early trips in South Africa under apartheid and the current social situation of the country, four portrait sections in which he includes a pair of interviews with people on opposite sides of the current post-apartheid experience, and a sensible personal conclusion. The reader should expect moving as well as harrowing personal accounts of apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa. Many things throughout the book will bring hope to the reader; however, that hope will be checked by Goodman's well-informed statistics on criminality and unemployment in present-day South Africa. The book definitively deserves a wide readership.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Having visited South Africa in October, 1998, and seen the extensive squatters areas described by the author, I do not believe that readers of his book can adequately understand the extreme poverty he describes. It has to be seen and experienced to be appreciated. Mr. Goodman's portraits of the eight people in his book gives flesh and humanity to the otherwise dehumanizing nature of apartheid. I think his work is best appreciated if you have seen South Africa for yourself. For your readers who have not been to South Africa, they owe it to themselves to see it. I believe you can not remain unmoved by what you see and one must come away from that experience a better person.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert Orion on January 22, 2004
Format: Paperback
Goodman has compiled a great book here with views on important events in South African history. These events are examined with narratives from both sides, white and black. The aftermath of each event is traced as well.
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